Voodoo Tattoo

Temperature: 71F/22C Wind: 7mph SE Observations: Cloudy

Though the outside looks a bit rough and the inside at first glance seems a little seedy and run-down, a closer look will reveal that while the building is old and the fixtures are well worn, the tattoo parlor itself is perfectly professional and up to code. Clean and well kept, the space has a lot of clutter of pictures of clients and their tattoos up on the walls along with colorful and mis-matched furniture. The overall feeling is not dissimilar to being in your favorite club or diner, where things are a little chaotic and compressed, but oddly comfortable and cool. Books are laid out up front with endless pictures of tattoos and designs for customers to browse through and a chalkboard hangs predominately up on one wall with all of the prices and information.

The clouds have been a'rumblin' and a bumblin' all day long, threatening the city of Dallas with rain, but holding it off, making everybody bustle about with rain coats and gear and then not delivering. Till now. The sky cracks with a flash of lightning and thunder before opening up and POURING. Most of the shops on the block are long since closed and dark, chains locked and gates pulled before them in an unwelcoming manner. Not only are the lights of Voodoo Tattoo on, but the door is even open to let in the cool night air. A man and a woman are visible through the glass window, off toward the back of the store. The woman is reclined in a chair with her knee bent and the man is leaning over her exposed thigh, wiping with his left hand occasionally as he works with his right. His head lifts, blinking as the door slams open wider and the rain starts trying to sneak on inside. Turning off his needle, he gives the girl's arm a squeeze and rumbles, "S'cuse me, darlin'…" before heading toward the front.

Fairly late, not quite midnight, but getting there. A sudden, freak thunderstorm isn't unheard of, but no one was really expecting it tonight. Kate had just been walking, recently off her shift from the shelter and needing some wind down time. She hasn't even let herself go home to get out of her medic's uniform and shower away the antiseptic and sweat from the day. She needs about three cigarettes of wind down time before she can do that. She was 2 cigarettes in when the wrath of god opened up from the skies. No umbrella, no car, she's just running to the nearest open shop — the tattoo parlor, it seems. Too late for much else on this street, she dashes in through the open door and ducks her totally soaked frame inside. She looks like a drown rat in a navy uniform. "Sorry, sorry!…Damn rain… God…" Kate's New York accent breathes out in total shock.

Jed Thomas Coulton has clearly not lead an easy life and as a result he is anything but easy on the eyes. Just under six feet tall, his build is almost scrawny, his frame made of wiry corded muscles and not much else. His face isn't much to look at, with odd sort of buggy blue eyes, brown hair of a non-descript variety with a receding hairline, and a nasty scar trailing down over his right cheek. The years have not been kind to his man, but he has a determination and toughness that gleams in his eyes and is apparent in his voice and manner of moving. Probably the most noticeable thing about him is his left arm which was clearly damaged in some sort of serious accident, the shape of it not quite right, his left hand stiff and gnarled. Bad scars have been mostly covered up and hidden by tattoo work, but are still visible for anyone who is looking. Both of his arms are covered in tattoos from his fingers all the way up to his shoulders and curling over his back and over his chest. If there are any more, which seems likely, they're hidden beneath his clothes for the most part. His left arm generally just hangs at his side and he uses it very little. When he does use it, it often shakes as if gripped by a palsy. More often than not, Jed wears a black tank top and faded blue jeans. If the weather is cold, generally the only addition is a flannel shirt worn over his tank.

The man heading toward the door doesn't even flinch when the woman literally throws herself inside, his body leaning over to the side to pick up a towel from a pile of them on a shelf before walking up to Kate and holding it out to her with his right hand. "Here y'go, darlin', don't you fret none. Downpour like this won't last more than 1, mebbe 2 hours. Prolly lighten up a bit b'fore that even." He's a scrawny man, wiry muscles, tanned skin, and tattoos trailing down both of his arms from shoulder to wrist. His left hand is tucked into the pocket of his jeans and for some his appearance might be considered somewhat disturbing and creepy, like something out of the movie Deliverance. But the smile on his lips is friendly and his eyes, even though they're kinda bugged out a bit, are eyeing her in a manner that is neither perturbing or lascivious, despite the fact that her clothes are clinging to her like a second skin. Passing her by, he closes the front door, which jingles cheerfully, noting, "There's more towel iffin' y'need 'em. I'm just about finished up back here, but feel free to make yerself at home. Walking back toward the Asian girl, Jed glances over his shoulder and asks, "Iffin' yeh want some coffee, there's a pot on in the back…"

Exhausted. Tough. Oddly lovely. Those are probably the first bits of thought that come to mind upon seeing Katherine Clarke. Her dirty blonde hair is cut in a fairly blunt bob that comes down to just about her chin, though she normally has it pinned back off of her face in a short, sloppy pony tail. She's got blue eyes that hold a certain amount of spunk consistently, but it's normally hidden behind blood-shot exhaustion. Two matching sets of luggage usually rest right beneath that blue gaze. She's got a hint of a pug nose with surprisingly full lips that betray her tomboyish appearance to the next level of feminine. Her body is fairly fit, tough, lithe arms and toned legs though she’s lacking any sort of meat on top of that muscle. She stands about 5'3" and rarely wears anything other than flat shoes.
While on duty, Kate wears a paramedics uniform that is big enough it needs to be belted and tucked in around her thin frame. There are a fair amount of splatters and marks of bloodstains that just haven't ever come out in the wash on the dark blue. If she's off shift, she's generally seen in a pair of black jeans and a tank top.

Fortunately, for her at least, her uniform is made of ugly linen and she's got a tank top on beneath, so other than hugging her lithe, tom-boyish form a bit more, there really isn't anything she's showing off beneath that coarse, navy linen. Her stethoscope and badge hang heavy around her neck, all water proof, thankfully, so nothing is damaged other than her reputation and any sort of attempt at a hair style. She blinks up to the… politely called… hick of a tattoo artist, giving him an almost nervous smile as she accepts the all too convenient towel and begins to mop at her face, then her hair. "…Hey, sir… thanks…wait, what… Hours? This will last -hours-??" That's a shock. She was expecting only a few minutes, it's raining so hard. She is careful to stand just in the front walkway, not wanting to drip everywhere. "Sorry, really…didn't mean to bowl you over… Damn, that came fast." Hoo-boy she's a Yankee.

While Kate's words come out as fast as the pouring rain, Jed's are as slow and patient as honey. He chuckles softly and notes, "You ain't from around these here parts, are ya, darlin'?" There’s no censure or mocking in his voice, just patient amusement for the New York girl. "Name's Jed," he corrects mildly, "t'ain't sir." His bulging blue eyes flicker to the window, shoulders shrugging as he notes, "Y'might be lucky. Might be jest half an hour. And it prolly won't rain quite so hard fer all the hours. Maybe." He sits back down next to his client, a thin young woman with jet-black hair that has been studying Kate since she came in with little evident interest. Jed pulls his left hand from his pocket, the curled up hand trembling slightly as he picks up a damp cloth and wipes away the blood on the woman's thigh, studying the design before muttering, "Almost done, here, Sukie…" Turning on the needle his eyes lift to Kate as his head gestures to a curtained off doorway behind him noting, "Coffee pot's back there iffin' you be wantin' any. Feel free to strip off that uniform as well. You'll catch a chill most like iffin' y'leave it on…" *bzzzzz-zzzzzzz* goes the needle as he leans in once more and starts working on the design once more, a curling Chinese dragon climbing up the length of Sukie's thigh, from knee to crotch.

Kate keeps working on drying off her face and hair a bit but, indeed, she's going to be freezing as the indoor's air conditioning cuts through the soaked nature of her clothing. She's not shivering yet, but she's a medic, she can do the mental calculations and figure out just how long before she ends up half sick. And going back outside clearly wasn't happening any time soon. A shy looking, tired smile cuts across her pale, freckled features as she looks from Jed, to his client, then back to the bulging eyed Jed. "You…you do good work." She nods to the thigh, actually quite impressed. The interested Sukie gets a nervous smile before she does head back for that coffee. "Uh…I'm…I'm Kate, not sir. Jed… and thank you, coffee is… A life saver." No way in HELL she was from around here. Her New York accent practically screams out of her husky voice.

"Don't fret yer pretty little head about it, darlin'. Always nice to have company," Jed calls back over his shoulder to her. Then he goes quiet for a while, the soft buzzing of his tool the only sound beyond the pounding of the rain. But true to his word, he finishes up the design. He smiles at Kate, his head bobbing in silent thanks for her compliment as he cleans off the last of the blood. Smearing the black outline with antibiotic and wrapping Sukie's thigh, he gives the girl a pat on her knee and notes, "Give that a week or two to heal up and then we'll start workin' on the colors. You think long and hard about what we talked about, hear? Colors have power, so make sure y'choose wisely." The Asian woman nods somberly, then smiles for the first time since Kate entered the building, placing a hand on Jed's shoulder and leaning in to give his scarred cheek a kiss. "Thanks Jed," she replies with a cheeky little wave. "You're the best." Unlike Kate, Sukie was prepared for the weather, donning a poncho and pulling out a large umbrella before giving Jed another waggle of her fingers and disappearing out the door. Cleaning up his tools, Jed watches as the girl disappears into the storm before turning back to check on guest. "So, Katie, y'need somethin' warm and dry to put on, darlin'?"

Power? In colors? Kate might be a Yankee, but she's a smart one, not missing the strange implications to those words. She has the towel wrapped around her shoulders, not quite having found the courage to strip out of the thick linen of her uniform. Apparently, she doesn't have -quite- that much on underneath. Looking a bit warmer for the towel and the coffee between her small, skilled hands, she watches the pair as the woman exits and now she's left alone with the oddly warm, if creepy, tattoo artist. A nervous smile tweaks at her full mouth, those warm lips betraying the tom boy nature of her face, somehow out of place and too feminine for the rest of her. His question draws an almost nervous laugh, "Oh, no…no…God, you've been so nice already, the coffee is more than enough, Jed. You're sweet…really, but I'm fine." She insists, her voice trying to remain smooth and proud.

"Yeh look like a kitten whut been tossed in a bag in the river… and yer still wearin' the bag." Jed points out practically, eyeing her soaked and ill-fitting uniform. "T'ain't no trouble a'tall to lend you a pair of sweats and a tank, darlin'. Especially iffin' youse gonna be here fer awhile, which y'might." Sure enough the rain hasn't let up at all. Perhaps he just has things to do, or perhaps he's keenly aware of how he must look to others, or noticed Kate's nervous smile. But whatever the reason, the tattoo artist seems to have all sorts of things what need doing around the store to keep his hands and his eyes busy, thus giving Kate the space she might need to feel more comfortable. "Course you can always call fer a cab. Phone's right there on the desk, iffin you wanna."

It takes a few moments of Kate studying him, but then something inside her just releases. She rather prides herself on her bullshit detector, emotional and scent wise, and he doesn't read of any bullshit at all. Other than his creepy exterior, he probably reads about the nicest man she's met since coming down here. She suddenly releases a breath she's been holding for a while — possibly weeks, a tired, quiet laugh brushing her lips. "…Sorry, Jed. Wow…I must seem like a right bitch. No, no…I'd be…happy to stay. And your right, a change of clothes would be….Smart. I owe you, hun… really." And then she smiles. Genuine, warm… protective yet relaxed. It's a good smile. It actually brings her close to what one might call pretty, when it manages to reach her tired eyes.

His eyes lift to Kate from where he's bent over, sweeping dust into a dustpan, his gaze surprised as he blinks and then offers the woman a smile, shaking his head before standing up. "A bitch? Now darlin', why would you ever say a thang like that? Lessin' you like to run around on all fours and bay at the moon? Mebbe then the term would fit." Leaning his broom against the wall, he nods and notes, "Jest give me a minute…" before he disappears into the back, the sound of doors squeaking and footsteps above heard for a bit before her comes down once again to offer her a flannel shirt and a pair of sweats. "They'll be a bit big. Lucky fer you, I guess, than I'm on the small and lean side of beef." She can see his left hand now, the limb curled and gnarled, scars hidden for the most part by tattoo work indicating that something bad happened to this man at some point in his life. Once she's taken the clothes his left hand is tucked away once again into his jeans as he notes, "Y'can change in the back. Fer privacy and all…" and then he gets back to tidying up the shop. It isn't until a minute or two later that he calls toward the back of the store, "You hungry? You don't look like you eat nuthin that sticks to yer ribs…"

"Well…Ironically…" Kate begins, though she doesn't actually finish the statement. Still, there's something totally amused on her face about the baying at the moon comment. She might even be blushing a bit. "But I meant being…Offish. Didn't quite expect a man like you in a…place like this." How the hell do you tell the nicest man in town he looks fucking creepy? You don't. So she dances around it, awkward an embarrassed, still hugging that coffee between her fingertips, sipping from it on occasion. Black and sweet as sin, the way she always takes it. She removes one hand from the coffee cup to accept the clothes, her eyes flickering just a moment to his hand, taking in the muscle and nerve damage, medic's mind already dissecting what could have done that to him, but she smiles back up to his face. "Sure…I'll change in the back…be just a moment. And… you really don't need to go to trouble for me. You've been too damn nice already." She slips towards the back, but leaves the door open, so they can chat through it as she does change.

"S'alright, darlin'. I own a mirror. I know what God's given me and what I've put there m'self," he replies with a wry and self-disparaging smile upon his lips. "Funny though. Most people figure tattoo parlors to be filled with all sorts of dubious lookin' characters. 'Specially in this sort of neighborhood." Which, let's face it, isn't the best. But it's all Jed can afford, so it's what he's got. At least it's all his. He continues to clean up, keeping his eyes forward the whole time, noting, "T'aint no trouble. Feelin' a might bit peckish m'self, and there's some gumbo in the fridge from the night b'fore jest waitin' to be eaten. S'always better the next day anyhows."

Kate steps back out a few moments later, the sweat pants waist rolled down in the way that the girls do, making it hang low on her hips but at least stay up comfortably. A tank top to match, she's looking far drier and thinner now than she's not in the bulky uniform. Indeed, she's just about skin and bones other than certain muscles, mainly lifting muscles, that she uses on the job all the time. She's straightened her short blonde pigtails some and looks like an almost new woman, smiling warmly to him. "I suppose I could do with a bite or two of something. Only if you let me take you out to lunch some day. I owe you one and…Hell…" She looks him up and down a few heartbeats, "Creepy lookin' in a creepy area of town or not… You're probably just about the most genuine person I've met since coming down to this crazy disaster zone. It's… it's a damn relief." She flashes him that smile again.

He laughs, a most genuine laugh, at her backhanded sort of compliment, noting, "Come Halloween, though, I'll be the best costume in the city…" His head tilts as he notes, "There's plenty o'genuine people t'be found, darlin'. The best of 'em come from the little county towns fer the most part, not so much the city folk. It's the country folk what knows about manners and hospitality." He pulls out an old beat up electric burner and a pan and then makes his way back up the stairs only to return in a few with some bowls and a large container of food. Scooping out the gumbo into the pot he turns the ancient device on and then takes a seat next to it, patting one of the other leather chairs to indicate that Kate should make herself comfortable. "Iffin' you want to take a creepy old man out t'lunch, I won't say no, but we best avoid them nice places downtown. I got a reputation to protect, after all," he jokes wryly, stirring the thick mass so it doesn't burn. "Yer from the east coast then, yes? You got that fancy new-fangled accent. Tiny slip of a thing too, ain'tcha? Whut is it you do, sugar? You a doctor or nurse or somethin'?" Jed's had plenty of experience with those. He may look like a dumb hick, but he ain't stupid.

Kate crosses over to his side, not sitting quiet yet, but getting comfortable in the borrowed, loose clothing and with her nearly empty coffee cup in hand. Warm and more awake! That rainstorm seems to have become a blessing in disguise. She rolls her eyes at his comment, "Reputation?…I suspect your customers take good care of that, and from the Asian chick, you have a damn good one. We'll go wherever you like. My treat.. Least I can do." She seems to mean it too, more than comfortable now that she's had a few moments to speak with him, "Yeah…from Manhattan, actually. But I… I think I'll be staying down here… for a good long while." She shakes her head at the medical question, "Nothing so fancy. Just a paramedic… came down for the relief efforts. I think I'll stick around, though." There's a hint of wariness in her voice there. The slight look of someone on the run. But it doesn't linger long.,

"T’ain’t nothin' to sniff at, what you do. I'd probably be dead if it weren't fer a paramedic. Good hard work, that is." Reaching over he pats her knee in a light and affectionate sort of way, the same sort of pat he gave Sukie, as he notes, "Yer a good girl, comin' all this way t'help out." His eyes are sharp and discerning and Jed is used to helping out people in trouble, so he's well familiar with the signs and looks of them. Patting her knee again, he stirs the heating gumbo and notes, "It ain't no Manhattan, but Dallas can be a big bad city all on it's own. Iffin y'find yerself in trouble, you come find me. Know this city like the back of my hand. Know the people here too. And I gots a few other tricks up my sleeves, fer thems what been needin' it."

She's got the signs. A bit too thin, the bags under her eyes, the very slight, paranoid twitch to her entire being. But Kate's gotten good at hiding it, especially on a night like this, so she doesn't seem immediately in danger. Just like someone who's been running a long, long while. She settles down into perching on the nearest seat, her now-warmed hand reaching down to squeeze overtop of his own for a heartbeat as he gives her leg a pat. "I should be fine… I'm used to takin' care of myself, Jed. But thanks." And then the last comment receives a slightly closer look, her head tilting, eyes a touch narrowed…"Is that what you meant when you said color has power? I somehow doubt you were talking about a fashion statement." He's not the only one good at reading people.

The girl's work is excellent cover for her worn condition, since it is a well-known fact that those in the medical business work long and hard hours. Easy explanation for shadowed eyes, a thin frame, and a stressed condition. His eyes twinkle a little bit as she asks him about colors and what he meant, simply nodding and replying cryptically, "All sorts of things have power iffin' you believe in 'em. Colors got meanings, symbols got meanings. All that stuff been handed down over the centuries now. This world thinks it's so smart now, with all it's science and technology. We make the mistake of thinkin' that thems that comes before us were ignorant creatures who didn't know nothin'. But iffin' those things didn't be workin', then how you think they became handed down in the first place?" Leaning over he sniffs the gumbo and takes a taste of it, nodding his head before dishing out two bowls of the stuff and handing one over to Kate. He cradles his own awkward in his left hand, using his chest to steady it against the tremors thereof as he takes a bite. "Mmmhmmm, def'nitely better the next day. Careful though, it's hot and spicy…"

Kate accepts her bowl, inhaling deeply of the spicy, warm scent. It actually brings just a hint of color to her cheeks that wasn't there before, and an audible rumble to her stomach. It's almost embarrassing, but she smiles, half sheepish, and scoops up her spoon to her lips, blowing across it a few times before taking a bite, "….Damn, boy… " She groans out a moment later, clearly appreciative. That's the best sort of compliment she can give to cooking, digging in for another bite, letting the spice cut through her veins and warm her whole body from the chilly fall rain outside. It takes a few moments for her to really feel human again, to recall what they were saying. "…Yes, well… with vampires out of the woodwork, I suppose there's lots more than simple science on this planet, you know? Things us medics will never understand…doesn't make'em not true."

He laughs again, as much at her pleasure of his cooking as he reference to him as 'boy'. At 52, Jed hasn't been a 'boy' in a very long time. "Exactly," Jed notes with a nod. "So many thangs we've put down as myth and legend, folklore and poppycock. But here we are now with… vampires. Anythin' else is possible." Although Jed seems fairly fervent about the idea of there being other things out there beyond what mere science can explain, vampires, by the tone of his voice, is not exactly his preferred example of such revelations. Sadly, though, it's the only publicly known one to use. He takes a few more bites of his own food, foolishly pleased at how much Kate is enjoying hers. "I don't get to cook much fer others," he drawls, "so it's good to know that I ain't foolin' myself into thinkin' I'm a half-decent cook…"

The comments of vampires just make something small and very tight scream within Kate. It's the faintest of twitches, but it comes then when nothing else brings it. Whatever she's running from, well, it doesn't take a genuine to put together that it probably has fangs. It just takes someone with a bit of skill at reading people. She's eating, probably more than she has in ages if her frame is any show, definitely encouraged by the spice and warmth. Once that bit of twitching is over her warmer smile has come back, amused once more…"Yes, and occasionally bitches do run on all four legs and bay at the moon, so…" She hints, very lightly, trying to keep some of an inside-joke chuckle off of her voice. She doesn't succeed very well. Maybe SHE's the mad one among the two of them.

Jed isn't a genius, but he's got a good head on his shoulders and is generally pretty astute when it comes to people. But if he notices Kate's reaction, or takes it for anything more than his own generally dislike and distrust of vampires, it's impossible to say. He makes no comment on it and with his hands full, he can't give her leg a comforting little pat. One brow lifts quizzically as she returns to a much earlier subject without any real cause… unless she's trying to make a point? "Either yer sayin' that my gumbo is good enough to make you want to howl at the moon, or yer tryin' to tell me sumthin' entirely else like." His head tilts as he asks in a knowing manner, "You like t'howl at the moon, darlin?"

Kate isn't entirely the most subtle of individuals, it seems, but then if one didn't already know, one might just assume that she was a bit crazy. And if one did know… Well, the world just got a bit more interesting. She studies him as he inquires with that knowing glint in his eyes. She chuckles softly, half bare shoulders rolling in a teasingly casual sort of motion. "Mm… On occasion, yes… especially when it's full. Sometimes she doesn't exactly give me the choice, if you know what I mean?" And now she studies him a bit closer. His eyes, expression, all the way down to his ink, almost trying to read some sort of story in those tattoos. "And you? What would you know about howling at the moon?"

Nodding sagely, Jed replies, "I do… I do know what yeh mean, darlin'." His words are filled with the most subtle of imports, his eyes sober and trustworthy, as if to say 'your secret is safe with me'. He laughs softly at her question and replies, "Me and the moon don't have a special sort of relationship, and I'm not one to howl most like. I tend to keep quiet and keep t'm'self. Ceptin' when I'm keepin' after others whut need it. But I've known a person or two, whut has a special relationship to the moon and feels the powerful need to commune with her when she's full and feelin' sassy." Finishing off his gumbo, Jed stirs the contents of the pot a few times before adding a bit more to his bowl, lifting up the spoon with a questioning look, should Kate want some more as well.

Kate is smaller than him, though with his thin form not by much, so she's pretty much filled herself full on he bowl she hungrily consumed. She shakes her head gently at the offer, but her smile remains. Thankful, damn curious now, not daring to even shy away from his eyes. She might miss some vital clue. "Keeping after others that need it? Like whom?…How? You know my secret, dear… now… do share. I'll be quiet. Pinky swear, I promise." She raises her right hand to him, pinky offered out if he wishes to put down his spoon and secure the deal. The grin on her lips is genuine, if a bit of a warm tease.

Jed stares at her pinky with a hint of bemusement in his eyes before lifting his hand and linking his pinky with hers, chuckling softy. "Let's just say that if I came from your neck of the woods, the people of a certain town called Salem would not have taken too kindly to my presence back awhiles ago." Their mutual secrets are quite safe in this place, at this time of night, with the rain pouring hard and heavy outside the door. Still, the older man seems to enjoy talking in circles rather than directly about matters at the moment. He breaks the contact only to pick up his spoon and resume eating, leaning back against the counter beside him as he asks, "So, whut form you take to? Wolf? Or sumthin' other like?" So much for circles.

Kate gives a little shake of pinkies, smiling wide before her small palm falls back away and she sets the bowl down quietly. "Witch, eh…? Never met one of those…Interestin'… " She tilts her head casually, trying not to look as dangerously curious as she is, but she's damn interested, full mouth resting in a thoughtful line as she studies his ink closely, and then looks off around his shop for any other sort of hint. "…Question for a question? Seem a fair deal? Unless you don't trust man's best friend…and no… God no… Not a wolf… I ain't one of them… More loyal than that." She states with a homely sort of pride.

One brow lifts and Jed chuckles softly, noting, "Never had a dog, though I've had best friends in my time. Have to say I'm a bit surprised. Most weres I've met are powerful secretive and powerful animal types. Never met a dog one before. It's good, though, to know that gentler animals of the world are represented likewise." His smile is relaxed and easy, even if it doesn't particularly improve his looks. "A question for a question then, I'm game to play yer game," he offers mildly in return. Though most mundane types would never guess that the man before them was a powerful witch, and Jed doesn't exactly go about advertising the fact, he is remarkably blasé' and casual about who and what he is. Course in these days with psychic hotlines and whatnot everywhere you like, the only thing that's odd about him being a self-proclaimed 'witch' is his gender.

Of course, that is the first obvious question. Kate tilts her head slightly, shifting her body fully in his direction and tucking one of her bare feet beneath her body. She'd removed her boots earlier, the leather soaked through and raisining her toes. Now comfortable and facing him dead on, she asks, "Witch? I thought men were warlocks. What makes you a -witch-?" She no longer seems shy about his eyes, or shy about him at all. It's a great freedom to be honest with someone, allowing her a touch more daring than she'd normally show… And to breathe far easier as well.

"Words is words, you can keep 'em fancy or simple. The term witch applies equally, whether you be man or woman, in such circles. I think any man who called himself a warlock, well, he'd be puttin' on airs t'be sure. What makes me a witch is that same thang which makes anyone a witch. The inborn ability to wield magic of one type or another." Putting his bowl aside, Jed wipes his mouth on his arm before wiping his arm off on his jeans. "Lessee… so you turn into a dog. Whut kind of dog? Are you one of those little yappy Chihowwas? Or sumthin' bigger like a Lab?"

Kate considers a moment, her head tilting to her side. "Well…" Seeing is believing. She stands then, moving to the small area where she got changed. It's just a momentary shift, though he might feel the brief brush of magic in the air, the pull of heat on the universe, and then a very large, floppy, slightly drooly looking blood hound trots right back out of the room, sweat clothes abandoned. It also gives her a chance to scent the whole shop. Herbs, anything strange he might use in his practice, the sort of people who come here. Her flaring nose opens to her a whole new world even as slow and lazy tail sways heavily behind her.

He watches curiously as she heads to the back, rising up himself to start cleaning up before he feels the magic and hears her come out, paws clickclicking on the hardwood floor beneath her feet. Turning about, Jed chuckles and leans down to pet her head and rub her ears with one hand as he exclaims mildly, "As I live and breathe. Gots to say, though, I was figurin' you'd be something a little more dainty like than a bloodhound. Course, iffin' you have the nature fer it, I do like to go out huntin' every so often. Never done it with a dog before, but it could be a nice little partnership." The place is full of scents, all sorts of people, food, sweat, blood, ink. There are a few scents that seem odd or are hard to place. If there are herbs, they aren't the garden cooking kind of variety. He picks up the bowls and carries them to the back, washing them out as he notes pragmatically with a hint of teasing in his voice. "Course you got one small problem here… can't ask me no questions if all y'can do is bark."

Kate tilts her head up, nuzzling into his hand. So few people knew, it actually felt pretty good to get pet once in a blue moon, not by the only other drunken red neck hick she met in this town who figured things out. Much nicer. His wrist is given an encouraging lap by a HUGE pink tongue and then she trots after him, towards the kitchen where he's cleaning up. She's still sniffing around, learning things, probably a damn fine hunting dog when it comes down to it. His question of hunting gets a little baying in return and a quicker wag of her tail. That is probably a -yes-. And then she begins to scent. The strange ones. The ones she doesn't know. She tracks them all the way back to the closest place of origin she can find and actually does bark once. It's fairly obvious, she's curious for an explanation as to that smell. Go figure, leave it to a bloodhound to ask the smell questions first.

Chuckling softly, Jed replies, "I'll take that as a yes then fer hunting. Funny, wasn't sure if a city girl would take to such things. But I guess y'can't take the blood out of the bloodhound," he muses with another chuckle. He doesn't seem to mind her exploring, simply calls after her, "Watch that tail!" Fortunately most of the breakables are waist high or higher, stacked up on counters and shelves above that. That's also where the strange smells are coming from. They smell earthy and natural, but strong and undistilled. The sharp tang of copper, the subtle scent of silver, something like mushrooms or fungus, the scent of things that have been burnt and so many other smells - honey, blood, coal, charcoal, essential oils, chalk, insects, endless strange smells, though many of them are hard to smell clearly, their contents clearly contained within the hundreds of small bottles stacked in bookshelves above Kate's head. Turning as she barks, Jed picks up a dishtowel and dries off his hands as he crosses over to her and crouches down, looking up at all the bottles and the work counter that has caught her attention. "Determined to sniff out all my secrets, eh? Well, y'got the nose fer it. I work through my art. Different witches got different magics. Mine's the least impressive, but I do whut I can with it. All these ingredient," he points out with a pointing finger, "I add into the inks to give them more power. T'make the spells more potent. Intention is the most important part, but the rest matters too."

Kate tilts her head a bit, long, huge ear flopping down almost to the floor. She listens fully to him, tail back to the slow, lazy swaying behind her. Interesting. She nods curtly, just once, and then trots back into the side room. A brush of magic and a shifting of clothing, and she's walking back out while still pulling down the tank top he'd given her, oversized on her wiry form. "Sorry… you're right, conversation is easier. It just… it feels good, sometimes… don't get to do it enough, you know." She admits with an almost embarrassed smile, as if she's just shown him her vulnerable belly. Which she sort of has. She breathes out slowly. "Alright, your turn. 'cause I sure as hell have more questions."

"Darlin', you ever feel like bein' a dog, feel free to come by any time. Nothin' I like better than sittin' around with good, quiet, company. Never had a dog before, but I reckon it would be the best of company to be sittin' around, grilling up steaks and readin' books with a dog by my side to keep me company. Any time you feel the need, you just come by. Ain't nobody gonna give you no mind nor question why you're here. I take in strays of one sort or another all the time." With the dishes all cleared up, Jed wanders back into the store proper, turning the sign from COME ON IN to AIN'T HERE and turning off the front lights. "How you manage in the city like? Bloodhound gotta stand out some in such a place, though I guess that big central park thang might do when y'needs changing…"

Kate smoothes out her tank, leaning against the most solid counter space she can seem to find, though she even looks more comfortable in her body now. A far, far cry to the shivering, shy paramedic that dashed apologetically into his front door and stared at them all in almost horror. She grins wider at the offer…"Mm… steaks, quiet evening, a grill… That sounds damn fine, actually. Soon as the disaster relief tapers off a bit, you've got yourself a date." She grins wide, the thought of a vacation almost making her drool already. Then it's back to business…"Ahh, my dad and I, we bred bloodhounds. 'show I perfected the form, so to speak. Only one litter at a time, but it helped with money… and family things. And the park did help too. Still, wasn't rare to see bloodhounds comin' out of our apartment. So we kept our cover easy." Her tone is almost quietly homesick now, just around the edges, even if she's trying to keep that super woman stance she often holds.

"Don't put off t'tomorrow whut you can enjoy t'day," Jed rumbles wisely. "Pleasure is sumthin you gotta grab when y'can. Do yer work, that's whut yer here fer, but don't let yer work run yer life. Take time fer yerself. Iffin' y'don't take care of yerself, yeh ain't real fit to take care of others, now ain'tcha?" Reaching into his pocket, Jed pulls out a prescription bottle which he opens one-handed, spilling two pills out before repocketing it. "Yer folks were shifting types than too? That must have been a comfort. Though it's odd, you say 'perfectin' the form', like you gotta practice at it. All the shifting types I know they're themselves as humans, or themselves as animals. T'ain't no practicin' about it. Yer either one or the other." But then he remembers himself and waves a hand notin', "That's my next question then. Sorry, darlin' I took my turn outta turn. Yer question." He heads to the back, opening a small fridge there and pulling out a beer, waving the bottle questioningly at Kate to see if she would like one before opening it. The pills are tossed back and washed down with three swallows from the long neck bottle.

The paramedic’s eyes narrow upon the bottle, just a little bit worried, especially as she sees him washing the pills back with beer, but she doesn't scold. It's not really her place. She nods silently to the offer of the second beer, reaching a hand out to the bottle and easily knocking back a good gulp of the stuff. "Alright. Prerequisite medic comment. Washing those things down with beer is about the bad idea of the century." She couldn't hold herself back, it seems, after all. Once she's given the warning, she takes another sip of her beer and chuckles faintly, "Alright, alright… my question for you is… What sort of spells in the ink.. What can they do? Strength? Wards? Intelligence? All of the above?" And she heads back to somewhere for both of them to plop down and get comfortable. NO comment is made about her life and work ruling it, perhaps a hint of tension in her eyes, but she's really not able to defend herself in anyway. Her face speaks it all. So, back to questions…"Oh, and, as for my family… I guess it is you are changed, but… you generally change into the last animal that you've seen. So, if we want to be bloodhounds… We keep them near. I also kept a rat for most of my life, for when smaller spaces were needed."

Chuckling softly, Jed flops down onto one of the couches located across the way from the workstation, for those who are waiting and want to be close by. "Been washin' 'em down that way fer over twenty years now. T'ain't done me no harm that ain't already been done." He takes another long draw from the bottle before replying simply, "Protection. I create protection spells; tattoo them right into the flesh. The spells ain't in the ink, they're in the art." He pulls from the bottle again before noting, "Like I said, one of the lesser magics. But there are ways that I can make it more … 'daptable than one might reckon." His eyebrows wing down at her explanation, the bottle lowering between his knees as he asks, "You meanin' t'say that you can be any animal you want, jest so long as you sees it first? Dang! That's a right impressive talent y'got there, girl!"

Kate studies him closer again, but it's not like any look he's gotten from her before. This is clinical, professional, looking around his eyes for the sallowness that might be there, the yellow hint to the white of his eyes or his skin. Nothing she can see, fortunately, and she breathes a hint easier, even if she still seems worried. "Yeah, well..none of us are as young as we were twenty years ago, Jed… Just… just be careful." No jokes there, no teasing, no flirting. Just dead quiet earnest worry for someone who is rapidly becoming a friend. She then draws in a deeper breath, shaking herself out of the thoughts. "Yes, well…it's not a bad little trick. All I can do, though… can't protect myself from shite otherwise." That hint of a twitch, the same that came with discussion of the vampires. "How much do you charge?"

Laughing, Jed looks over Kate and notes teasingly, "I'm ain't convinced that you was even born twenty years ago, child! But thank you fer yer concern. I knows my limits. This train wreck of a body keeps me well informed on that count. Her question, however, stops him just as he about to take another pull from his beer, the bottle lowering slowly as he studies her quiet like. "I had a feelin' you was runnin' from sumthin other than the weather. Care to tell me about it, darlin'?"

Kate cocks a single brow upward a his comment on his own body, a hint of skepticism crossing her face. Yes, she's going to mother hen him for all he's worth, it seems. No getting rid of her now — she's like a dog with a bone, har! She has slowed down on gulps of her beer, now just sipping it, nursing the second half almost reverently. A beer at the end of the day always was that sort of nice. His question, without giving her an answer, makes her stop drinking all together. She frowns, eyes dropping away from him… "…sold out a nest of vampires to the cops… They'd been killin' teens… street kids… stupid idiot kids, but… still kids. I realize vampires aren't anything better than monsters, but these were the worst of the monsters. They tried to rip my throat out in turn." She gives a short, tired little laugh…"Thank god for New York City rats…"

His look is one of sympathy but also sternness. "And whut, pray tell, did you think a pack of New York cops would do, or even could do against a nest of vipers like that? Nuthin', that's whut." But then he realizes that his words are unduly harsh, that the girl's heart was in the right place, even if her mind wasn't at the time. Reaching out he pats her knee lightly again, squeezing it before noting, "So yeh got herself in a peck of trouble and fled out here. They know you girl? They get yer name? Yer address?" He can't bring himself to ask about her family. "Did they lose any of there own, or did yeh just cause 'em a peck of trouble and inconvenience? Vamps ain't no better than monsters because they are monsters. And when fightin' monsters, y'gots to be better armed than jest callin' the cops." He takes a long thoughtful swallow before asking, "You reckon they're trackin' yeh? Lookin' fer payback?"

Kate gives a faint smile, "…They…they actually got someone on the force… some sort of contractor. They went in during the day… pulled'em all out asleep. Last I heard about it, but… I think they're tryin' them. Unless some higher up fucking paid off some judges. I… couldn't stick around. They had my scent, my blood… Only shifter who knew where their nest was, and it sure as hell wasn't my ambulance that got me there. So…" She looks down, forcing back emotion, not really wanting to look quite so raw as she feels about this whole issue. She was a grown woman and she could keep control. "I didn't go back home. Didn't need'em tracing my dad. Just… ran. Katrina was a sick little blessin' for me… gave me a place to go where I was needed." And there it was, the worst of the secrets. She stands up suddenly, swallowing back tight…"There… there somewhere I can smoke in here?"

One brow lifts at the very idea that vampires could, or ever would, go to trial. "New York must be a very modern place indeed. Round these parts, press won't even fess up to whut been done by those demons, let alone the cops. Downright useless cowards, they is. Ain't no justice to be had fer vampires. They considers themselves above all that. Iffin' they wuz smart, they shoulda pull em out in the day and let the sun 'ave its way with 'em. That would be justice." His hand comes to rest on her knee and just stays there, as steady and calm as his left one is not. "Smoke anywhere y'like, darlin'. It's a free country."

His hand manages to keep her half calm, even if internally she's triggering all over the place as he goes on about vampires in a way that she's wanted to say for months. The words she's wanted to scream to the mountaintops and no one would listen. Kate just nods slowly, a slightly ragged, trembling breath crossing her lips as she tries to control the sudden race of her pulse. "…I… I should have done that. I should have just drug them all out and taken the consequences… fucking coward, calling the cops like that… " She shakes her head faintly, almost forgetting her much needed cigarette. "But… y-your right.. they are a blight… I should have killed them… and I couldn't. Somehow…they're still alive. If insane, murdering… but alive." And she's a medic. She has promised never to do harm.

Frowning, Jed's hand tightens on Kate's knee as he corrects firmly and sternly, "You ain't got nuthin' to be ashamed of. You saw that sumthin' terrible was happenin' and you done whut most people woulda done - gone to the author-i-ties. Ain't yer fault there ain't no justice when it comes to vamps. Ain't yer fault that human's ain't equipped to deal with whut they really is. Maybe there are sum of 'em whut really do wants to integrate. I ain't got a problem with that. Not back when they integrated whites and blacks, not now. Whut I take issue with is the fact that there ain't no way to integrate when there ain't no even ground. They's faster than us, stronger than us, have witchin' powers o'er the mind. We ain't equipped to make no even ground and they ain't got no reason to make it easy fer us." Shifting closer, Jed wraps his arm about Kate's shoulder and notes, "Look. Ain't no reason t'think they'll come lookin' fer yeh. They gots their own rules and mebbe it be better fer them to fergit and move on. But if not, iffin' you want some pertection, from them or any vamps, well, I'll do right by you, Katie girl. I swears it."

Kate's pride normally wouldn't let her just sit there, be treated like she was a child, but maybe there was something about the older witch, or her own exhaustion, which was just knocking her pride down a few levels. She leans against his wiry arm, drawing in a few uncertain breathes against her pulse in her throat. "I know… I'm probably fine…If they wanted me dead, I'd be dead. It's fine. I'm tired of running… tired of being scared. I just want it all fucking done with…" She admits flatly, though with those half angered words, she's already regained a bit more control. She pulls out her cigarettes, menthols, slipping one between her lips before offering him the pack. "I don't want to bring you into this… if they're not after me, no need…and if they are… you needn't be in danger too."

Maybe the reason why she can accept his comfort is that he doesn't treat Kate like a child. He speaks straight and true, his voice never condescending or superior. He tells her like it is and offers what she needs - the belief that whatever may come, it is not her fault for trying her best. He shakes his head, not because he doesn't enjoy a cigarette from time to time, but because menthos ain't to his liking. "Don't you fret yer head none about me. I got my own pertections in place, both here and on my person. It also ain't wise to piss off a witch. We got community and we got powers and we don't all turn into the sleepin' dead come dawn or dark." He gives her a small sideways hug, or perhaps it's a shake, and mutters, "Ye don't have to bring me into nuthin. I'll just come in anyways iffin anybody gonna threaten my heretofore favorite new bloodhound. Screw that shi-it."

Kate shifts her cigarettes into her opposite hand, free arm wrapping around the back of his skinny waist in turn now, clutching just a bit closer to him. She doesn't cry out, dissolve into sobs, cling to him like a life boat, she's still too together for that, but she's holding on tight and warm, lending him some of her heat as her cheek rests against his shoulder for a few heartbeats. "You… you are entirely too good to a crazy bitch who just happened to run in here out of the rain, you know that?" She tries to laugh a bit, bring a hint of relief to the tension in the air.

When you're not looking right at him, he could be a handsome man. Save for the ruin of his left arm, tucked safely out of sight, Jed's frame is lean and strong. He might look like a bedraggled mess, but he smells good and clean, of ink and soap and skin. He chuckles softly and notes, "When yer human, you ain't no bitch, darlin'. Now crazy, I ain't gonna argue," he goes on to add with humor lacing his voice. He's quiet for a bit, just sitting and letting her lean into him like an old pillow or a comforting blanket. He's good fer that. His head turns slightly, chin brushing her hair as he looks out the front window and notes wryly, "Well lookie there. It stopped rainin'. By my reckonin' I think that's a sign that maybe yer worries and woes are comin' to a middle." He glances down at the crown of her head, his arm shifting to pet it lightly as he did when she was much shorter and much furrier. "I got a bum ticker," he confesses to the medic. "It's too damn soft yer its own good, but I'm guessin' it's the only good thing I got goin' fer me these days…"

Kate watches the rain die off outside with a slow exhale of her menthol cigarettes. She doesn't get up quite yet, but she does straighten just a bit. "I…should get out of your hair…" She admits softly, almost hesitantly, blue eyes pulling from the windows back to his now oddly comforting features. It really is dramatic how much the inside can change the out. She frowns, worried again as he mentions his ticker, until he goes on to elaborate. She gives a short laugh…"Well…better than having a bum ticker in another way, I guess… and you've got plenty more than that. A talented artist… Talented witch… Good man. Hell… I'm almost jealous. I suspect you've picked up a stray dog tonight, my dear. Won’t be the last you see of me." She stands slowly..

"My hair don't mind yer company, but it is late and you should git home and git some shuteye. You work too hard, I can see that right enough." His arm drops back to the wall, resting along the top of the couch behind her but not holding on any more. He waits till she rises up before doing so as well, gesturing to her clothes. "Keep those fer now. I 'spect yers ain't dried yet. Good excuse to have you come and visit again. And I means whut I says. Yer welcome back any time, be it fer safety, or talkin', or just quiet company and rest without bein' all on yer lonesome like. I wasn't kiddin'. You, me, dog shaped, steaks on the grill, sunnin' on the rooftop. Life don't git much finer than that."

Kate stretches out just a bit, her back popping in a few places, definitely sore with tension from a few too many long days. She smiles wide at him. "I'll stop back in the morning for the uniform, and to return these things. That… that seems a good start on seein' each other again. And yes..You set the rooftop, I'll bring the steaks. Done and done." With that, she pauses just a moment, leaning over to kiss his forehead in a motion that might be called sisterly, but is a bit more than that. "Sweet dreams, Jed…" And with that, she pulls away, tugging on her boots and heading for the exit. If he doesn't stop her, she'll soon disappear into the night.

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